I´ve written a few times about how a single mom have to be in good health, because we can´t afford the luxury of being sick.
At the same time, being the only one under all the responsibility and stress of taking care of a child (and because we are simply human), we can only expect that we will be abated a few times. Not only physically, but also mentally.
When that happens, it´s like hell on Earth.
Do you know what’s like when you have a fever and you only feel like lying down, feeling miserable with your whole body aching? If you add to that taking care of a child, a three-year-old in my present situation, then it’s really heavy to take.
Last week was one of those for me. First, it was Luísa sick for a few days and then it was me. While all I wanted to do was have someone to bring me a glass of water (yeah right, who?), it was me getting up to get water for her, to clean her, to clean the dishes (I ordered food at least), to get a minimum fix up in the house, to entertain, and so on.
That’s why I didn´t post last Thursday. I did have a few posts ready to go, but as I sat in front of the computer, I couldn’t make anything productive.
That´s where friends come in
By my third day of fever and spending the entire day with Luísa, a friend (a life saver) came to pick up Luísa for the day.
What a sensational feeling to simply spread in bed and rest in peace! Sleep in the middle of the day, do nothing, HEAL. How is one supposed to heal if not by resting? And how is one supposed to rest while watching a child?
I also went to eat at another friend´s house (another savior) without Luísa.
How relaxing to sit and eat without worrying about her eating, her education, her hygiene. Just now I realize how much it has been since I wasn’t away from Luísa for even one hour! I had to miss my mom-friends-day out, so it feels like forever without a break (from her).
A few weeks in a row with a 3-year old nonstop. Don’t try this at home, it’s dangerous for your sanity and for your child’s physical safety.
Yeah, I know I’m a permissive mother, but when I get fed up and we are alone, ugly things can happen.
It’s not that I beat her up, but it’s sinister to see the shift from permissive to authoritarian.
Since being sick, this shift was happening earlier each day.
Forget about Christmas spirit, I was more into postpartum depression spirit, wanting to kill my baby. Ok, not so dramatic, but I was feeling like leaving her in the house and running away until I had no more breath (what would have happened too soon given my health state, and have I tried, she would have caught me in no time).
I was near a nervous breakdown. Seriously.
I was speaking to her with clenched teeth.
I could feel my eyes pressed down by my eye browns, I’m sure I had an evil look.
I was screaming “NOOOOO!!!” to little things, like her ejecting a DVD from the laptop, scaring the hell from her (it will take me a while to restore a healthy “stop it” now).
That´s when I decided I had to ask for MORE help
I called a friend: “Please, take her away from me!”
I told her I needed her help, that I was on the edge of being more violent than I was already becoming (I’m talking about psychological violence here, nothing that makes me proud).
I wasn´t seeing Luísa as an innocent child anymore, instead, I was too pissed off at her, at taking care of her all by myself, exhausted from not getting enough rest to heal completely and from too much time on our own.
I asked my friend to watch Luísa a few hours a day for a few days in a row. Right now, I can’t be a good mother 24-7 (probably nobody can). I need a bit of space and peace to recover.
Such an innocent request, “a few hours for myself, please”. How many women out there could use a few hours for themselves?
If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, don’t hesitate, get help. Get someone to watch your kid, or to do your job, but don’t act like you can handle it all, because you can´t.
Or worse, you can. No one will notice what’s happening in your house and after a while, the bad phase will pass, but in the meantime, how damaged will your relationship with your child be?
Had I asked for help faster and maybe I would have saved Luísa from some psychological traumas. Like watching me kick the wall and beat a pillow screaming and crying after she ejected the DVD.
Ha, even I find it funny now that it´s gone, but the poor child had the most terrified face I wish I had avoided. Children are so sensible, it´s hard to tell how much our authoritarian bursts get to them.
And I don’t want to be either permissive or authoritarian. I want to use gentle guidance, mindful parenting and all that resembles these approaches.
I need just a bit of time to recover physically and emotionally and get back at being present, choosing how I act with my daughter and not reacting aggressively.
Only a few hours for myself, these will have to do the magic.
As I talked to my friend about what’s going on, what’s driving me nuts at home, as I cried and as I write about these things, I can see already the change to come, to heal, to act.
And you can do it too. Ask a friend for help if you ever feel that you are in need. Wonderful things might start happening. You know helping feels great, how about trying a bit of being helped instead?